tv All In With Chris Hayes MSNBC March 17, 2014 8:00pm-9:01pm PDT
melber in for lawrence o'donnell. you can find me on facebook at facebook.com/arimelber. and chris hayes is up next. good evening from new york. i'm chris hayes. tonight, ten days after the disappearance of malaysia airlines flight 370, investigators say it was taken off course deliberately. exactly where it was taken and where it is right now is still the greatest mystery of all. >> this movement are consistent with deliberate action by someone on the plane. >> here's why investigators now believe the plane was deliberately steered off course. mh-370 took off at 12:41 a.m. local time. at 1:07 a.m., the aircraft communications addressing and reporting system, or acars, which send maintenance information to the ground, sent
its last transmission. it was, apparently, disabled sometime within the next half hour after that transmission. a maneuver that may have required someone to climb through a trap door right by the plane's left hand front exit in full view of the cabin crew to switch the circuit breakers. at 1:19 a.m., the plane signed off from malaysian air traffic control. >> the last voice message from the aircraft was from the co-pilot who said, all right, good night. >> at 1:21 a.m. just as mh-370 was meant to be signing in with vietnam's air traffic control, malaysian authorities say the plane's transponder, which transmits the plane's location to ground controllers, was switched off. at 2:15 a.m., malaysian military radar picked up what is presumed to be flight 370 miles west of its original flight path. at 8:11 a.m. a satellite picked up a final ping from the plane, which places the last known
location of malaysian airlines flight 370 somewhere along two massive arcs. >> if it went south, it likely headed deep into the vastness of the indian ocean, not covered by radar. if it went north, it could be anywhere from burma, bangladesh, kazakhstan to uzbekistan. so far, five countries including india and pakistan say their radars did not pick up the plane. >> 26 countries are now involved in the search for the missing plane, while back in malaysia, the focus is on who might have had the technical expertise and ability to disable two communication systems and fly the plane off course. >> the malaysian authorities have refocused their investigation into the crew and passengers onboard. >> among those under investigation, an aviation engineer who was one of the passengers onboard mh-370. the co-pilot who at 27 years old, had just garage waited to flying a boeing 777.
and the pilot who had flown with malaysia airlines for over 30 years. >> video on youtube unverified appearing to show the pilot and co-pilot passing through security. >> this weekend, investigators searched both of their homes taking out a home built flight simulator from captain shah's house. >> we have dismantled it from the room and assembled it at our office and getting experts to look at it now. >> malaysian officials tamp down rampant speculation this weekend pointing out the two have no known ties to terror groups and had not requested to fly with each other on the mh-370. even with the question of who could have taken the plane and why and how still unanswered, of course, the biggest mystery that remains is where. where is the plane? wnyc identified 634 places within the current search radius with runways long enough to accommodate a boeing 777. fueling the no longer quite as farfetched speculation, could flight 370 have possibly even landed somewhere?
joining me now, nbc news correspondent kerry sanders, who has been covering this story. and when you're looking at a search radius that is the current search radius, am i fair in saying it's to longer really even a search in any recognizable fashion? that is, just a swath of the earth that is just too massive to look for anything in an orderly manner? >> exactly right. i think the commander on the "u.s.s. kidd" put it well when he said just in the indian ocean, which is larger than the continental united states, flying over and looking for something associated with this plane is sort of like flying over the united states and looking for one person. that's how much space and how small of an area that they're trying to find here. >> my question i guess, then based on that how much longer before some corner is turned that this no longer really even is a search operation? i mean, i think we've been anticipating all along that some
kind of physical evidence in some way or another will be located. what do investigators do, if and when that's impossible? >> well, you know, you have multi nations involved here and we're beginning to see some of that pullback already. india's pulled back. in fact, the united states the "u.s.s. kidd" pulled back. we're beginning to see a drawback. not for a lack of will but for a lack of indication that the work that's being done is actually going in a direction that's going to produce something. >> that is really, really interesting. thank you, nbc news correspondent, kerry sanders for that. appreciate it. joining me, clive irving, senior consulting effort for "the daily beast" reporting about the airline industry for 30 years. you had a piece today i thought was very important about the timeline and basically about two
minutes that are the key to understanding what happened. and you basically say the original report that came from malaysian authorities that had the transponder being turned off before the final vocal contact from the cockpit would indicate very strongly that the focus of suspicion would be on the pilots, themselves. they did something to turn the transponder off, said hey, okay, good night and gone on their way. the fact the transponder goes out now in the new timeline after that final vocal contact, you think, is really important. >> yes, i think that shows you two things. it shows how unfirm the information is that they're putting out, that they would do something as radical as changing that key part of this timeline. a timeline is a very essential instrument in building a picture of what's happening. the chronology of what's happened. because the sequence of how things happen is a key to understanding how a plane can crash, or a plane in this case can disappear. you know, chris, i think what's really interesting, if you reverse engineer this timeline, in fact, instead of starting at the beginning, start at the end, you're faced with a fascinating
phrase which is, it flew until it ran out of gas. now, that is a very odd thing, an unusual thing to do to fly for the estimates for how long it was flying for, suggest it may have been about six hours, which would put it 3,000 miles away from where this whole saga started. if that flew 3,000 miles into southern indian ocean, which is a probability, all that time, what was going on in this plane? there are so many elements of this story that are missing. >> well, you wrote something that made me kind of stop what i was doing. you said that the -- you wrote a piece with the headline "the baseless rush to blame the pilots of flight 370." and it's interesting. i've been reading some pilots today, i actuallily corresponding with a few. and there's a kind of growing, you know resistance or backlash amongst pilots toward the theory this was the pilots or the crew doing this. explain why you're hesitant to go along with that. >> well, to paraphrase orwell, blaming the pilot is the last resort of the scoundrel.
and i think that this was unseemly, the way this was done and i think there was no evidence on which to impugn these two pilots. and there's a political element here, i think, coming out of the situation in kuala lumpur where the pilot's being labeled as a member of the opposition party in a system where it's basically a one-party state where the media is supine, where they're not used to being challenged. so they've grown used to each day, i think, in these to have the confidence to put out that which they can bare-face retract the next day. >> just to kind of push back on that a little bit or to ask for fourth ert e further elucidation, to come up with a process that's the most theoretically clean and simple
would suggest for a plane to go wildly off its course, were it to fly for hours and hours, the most likely suspect to undertake that kind of thing would be the people with the most amount of flight experience on the plane. presumably the person who was piloting it. so it doesn't seem to me -- >> no, there's another hypothesis here, which is the crew could have been incapacitated in some way. everyone on the plane could have been incapacitated in some way. rather than someone intervening. and there are two ways in which that could have happened. there's the decompression theory which is if the plane lost pressure in the cabin, there would be an oxygen shortage and both the crew and passengers would rapidly become unconscious and there's a case of that happening in the mediterranean a few years ago. or there could be a fire which generated a certain kind of smoke. the fire could have come from the cargo hold where we know there were lithium ion batteries in there. could have been the kind of smoke without flames, which would have done that. which would have faded away. in fact, a fire in the cargo hold could have taken out those two systems. the problem with my hypothesis here is when you work your way
back from the end to the beginning, you hit this thing about the transponder being turned off. and about the acars being disabled. which, those two things make this theory very problematic, but at the same time can we accept that those two things were turned off actively or did they just fail for some mechanical reason? >> that i think is the key question. seems to me there was a bit more authoritative necessary than necessarily necessitated by the facts in the way that the turning off was portrayed over the weekend. clive irving. thank you very much. >> you're welcome. joining me now, msnbc national security analyst, don borelli. former special agent in charge of the new york joint terrorism task force. it's striking to me you have a manifest of 239 passengers on this flight, i believe. you immediately had information about two stolen passports. that was identified and flagged immediately. but in ten days, as far as i can tell, nothing more forthcoming that would lead investigators or
anyone in the widening circles of inquiry to suggest that there was some kind of motive for whatever might have happened if it were the case the plane were taken off course deliberately. >> exactly. and, you know whether or not you accept the malaysian version of the timeline or you think that it might be suspect, you've got so many possibilities here. you've got almost no clues to go on other than the technical data from the radar and the other, you know, information systems. so you have to look at every plausible thing. one of the things that might help investigators narrow down the search is looking at, was there a motive? looking at the background of the people. not just the pilots but hone in on the pilots because they had the technical capability, and maybe other people on the plane. >> well that's -- as a line of investigative inquiry, what strikes me is you have total -- you're flying blind, as it were in terms of the actual physical
evidence of the plane. right? the thing you know is, or you think you know is who was on the plane or who was supposed to be on the plane. and in this era, those folks leave long trails, right? you should be able to reconstruct a fair amount of those. it's just very striking to me that ten days in, whatever pursuits have been on that side -- i imagine you've done this kind of work before -- you think you would have hit something fairly early if there was some real bright flashing -- >> maybe or maybe not. some investigations proceed very rapidly. others it takes a lot of time to unfold. you may want to be requesting certain records, like phone records or bank records and those may take time to come in and then analyze. and there may be a shred of evidence that takes you down a path where you start to put the pieces together. sometimes you get lucky and get those smoking guns right away and other times it takes months. it just depends. and in this case, there might not be a smoking gun. we just don't know. you can't wait for everything else to unfold then say, well, now let's investigate. you have to parallel those investigations both technical
and the criminal type. >> so what does that look like? if you found yourself in this position, you have the plane manifest, what do you do? >> i'm basically looking at the background of everybody on those planes. presumably there's a lot of countries involved. because of the, you know a lot of chinese citizens citizens from other countries. i want backgrounds and investigation on all those people. i'm going to be asking all of, you know, basically my allied intelligence services to go out and shake the bushes. find out, what are they hearing? what is the chatter, the word used in the intelligence community? is there anything that leads investigators to think that this might be, you know, a deliberate criminal act, which is what it was called by the malaysian authorities? and that's yet to be determined. >> yeah, that deliberate criminal act, did that -- were you surprised that that phrase was used as plainly and specifically as it was? >> well, i'm not an aviation expert so i'm reliant on what i've heard from the people on you know the various shows
commenting on, you know the level of skill and the deliberacy that the plane took evasive maneuvers and the transponder was turned off and happened just at this handoff period which would be this window of vulnerability. so based on all that you know layman's point of view from the aviation perspective, it seems deliberate. you know, could there be another theory? sure. absolutely. >> msnbc national security analyst, don borelli. thanks so much. we're going to talk about the mysterious disappearance of flight 370 later in the show with three commercial airline pilots. there's a lot of other news to get to today including what the nra has done, what the nra has to do with the surgeon general. >> the top law enforcement officer, the top doctor in america, should not be partisan ideologues. they need to focus on the job at hand. teaching people about obesity and all those issues that keep people healthy and safe is where the focus should be, not on the gun control agenda. >> need to focus on all those issues that keep people healthy and safe.
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you know that show "the americans"? ♪ the show is set during the 1980s at the height of the cold war and carries a whole new level of fascination right now because of what's going on between russia and ukraine. which some are saying is the start of a new cold war. i'm going to ask a u.s. senator how we avoid a new cold war.
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for the second time in two weeks, a major obama administration nominee appears poised for defeat and this time the president's nominee looks ready to go down without even getting a vote. dr. vivek murthy nominated by the obama administration to be surgeon general but now amid opposition from the senate, white house telling "the new york times," it's "recalibrating our strategy around his floor vote. a re-calibration that could
include allow dr. murthy to withdraw his nomination." the excessive concern he developed as an emergency room doctor with the ravages of gun violence. >> my concerns with regard to issues like gun violence have to do with my experience as a physician, seeing patients in emergency rooms who have come in with acute injuries. >> murthy's unforgivable sin, it may be that last year as president of a health reform advocacy group he signed onto a public letter to congress saying "as health care professionals, we are unwavering in our belief that strong measures to reduce gun violence must be taken immediately." the letter advocated for such radical notions as a ban on military-style assault weapons, a proposal more than half americans agree with. the letter also advocated that doctors are not prohibited from talking to their patients about gun safety in the home. "one of our most important tasks as health care providers is to counsel our patients about how
to take care of themselves and prevent disease and injury. yet gun violence is an area where both state and federal poll sillicyies have prohibited us from doing our jobs." you know who supports murthy on this? radical insurgents belonging to the american medical association. in fact, in 2012 the ama filed a brief opposing florida's attempt to ban doctors -- ban doctors -- from talking to their patients about firearm safety stating the ama will "vigorously defend the patient/physician relationship and the free speech necessary for the practice of medicine." but the nra and rand paul have managed to whip up quite a frenzy over murthy, convincing the faithful he would use a surgeon general's office to vilify gun owners. that has been used to apparently sink his nomination. according to "the new york times", "opposition from the nra has grown so intense it's placed democrats from conservative states, several of whom are up for re-election this year, in a difficult spot."
senate aides telling "the times" as many as ten dems are believed to be considering a vote against dr. murthy on those grounds. that is what this fight is really about. about the decades-long battle the nra and allies have waged against doctors and health professionals to make sure that gun violence, which kills tens of thousands of people each year, is never considered to be in the domain of public health. joining me now is dr. joycelyn elders, former surgeon general of the united states under president bill clinton. dr. elders, you know a thing or two about the politics of that office. what's your reaction to the apparent end of the nomination of dr. murthy. >> well, i think there's no question that dr. murthy is very well qualified to be surgeon general, he -- but i think that we need to be concerned about gun violence as a public health problem. when we have 300 million guns in
our country, and we have 30,000-plus people killed each year related to gun violence, more than 140 injured each day and seen in our emergency room, i do think we have a public health problem. >> you know, that position -- i'm sorry to interrupt you because i want to just note that that position, that this is a public health issue, that has not been necessarily a radical position to take. c. everett koop the legendary surgeon general under president ronald reagan said, "no society including ours need be permeated by firearm homicide. regarding violence in our society as purely a sociologic matter or one of law enforcement has led to unmitigated failure. it's time to test further whether violence can be amenable to medical/public health interventions." >> well you know i think we all would agree with what dr. koop has just said. and we've got to begin to be
more aware of what we can do to regulate and keep the tools of violence out of the hands of our children and our young people. especially our young african-american men. young black men are far -- 20 times more likely to be killed in regard to gun violence than other young men during their lifetime. and i think we need to begin to educate our society as to how to handle and use guns. you know my father was a hunter. we lived in the country. but we know that there are far more injuries of gun violence going on especially in among poor people, in rural areas, than in other areas. so i think what we need is a lot of education. more rules. more regulations and policies. i don't think anybody has any problem with hunters using guns,
but it's the guns we're beginning to use indiscriminately in our streets, in our homes and in our schools and against our most vulnerable resource, our children. >> doctor, you had your own run-in with the kind of buzz saw of national politics. you became this polarizing national figure. you actually ended up stepping down as surgeon general and amidst controversy and democrats running away from you. do you have advice to offer dr. murthy from your own experience? >> well, obviously my experience -- my advice wouldn't be very good, but i feel that i did the right thing. i feel that you need to stick by what you believe in. stick by what you believe to be right. and do what you think is right for the american people. i have absolutely no regrets about my being forced out, but i think when we look back now, you
know, when i'm talking about protect yourself, take care of yourself -- >> yeah. >> -- and, well, i think we all look back and say, well, you know, we really should do that. none of us want our children to be lost, whether it's to gun violence, sexual violence, whatever. so i would tell dr. murthy just really make sure he sticks to what he, himself, believes in and don't blow whatever the way the wind's coming. we may just have to educate our politicians a little more. >> yeah. well, not being the surgeon general may enable him to be much more true to what he does believe. former surgeon general of the united states, dr. joycelyn elders, thank you very much. >> thank you. it's a pleasure. coming up, i'm thinking of starting a new recurring segment called "a major media magnate tweeted this" that will feature musings of this guy. >> news corp.'s rupert murdoch is a modern day press baron who rules newspapers, magazines,
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allen ginsberg and jackson poll lock. no visa is needed to access their work so i'm not missing anything. those were the words of vladislav surkov, a chief aide to russian president vladimir putin and a man who was one of a number in putin's inner circle who were sanctioned today by both the united states and the european union. those sanctions are the next step in punishing russia for its incursions into ukraine. particularly into crimea which under the watch of russian soldiers with a russian puppet government voted by a whopping 97% to s.e.c. ede from ukraine with the accompanying celebrations. president obama's executive order today froze the assets and banned the visas of about half a dozen people including russian-backed leaders in crimea. >> and as i told president putin yesterday, the referendum in crimea was a clear violation of ukrainian constitutions and international law. and it will not be recognized by the international community. and if russia continues to interfere in ukraine, we stand ready to impose further sanctions. >> but today, vladimir putin under somewhat uncertain
authority signed a decree recognizing crimea as a sovereign state. storm tomorrow, pew therein go before the russian parliament to call for annexation of crimea. putin will reportedly retaliate with similar sanctions against talk obama administration officials and high-profile u.s. senators including democratic senator dick durbin and republican senator john mccain. speaking of senator mccain, he continues to hammer president obama's response to the unfolding crisis. >> vladimir putin must be encouraged by the absolute timidity. i don't know when the president and his advisers are going to wake up to what putin is really all about. >> henry kissinger once told president nixon that withdrawals of troops from vietnam were like salted peanuts, to which the american people would become addicted. after this weekend's vote in crimea, i'm wondering if vladimir putin will be able to resist the semiation to annex something else.
the biggest city in ukraine and only a few miles from the russian border. and if this round of relatively mild sanctions is not the end, then what does the next step look like? joining me now is democratic senator chris murphy of connecticut, member of the committee on foreign relations who just got back from ukraine. and senator murphy you along with senator mccain, i think, have been the two most outspoken members of the united states government in condemning russian incursions and supporting the uprising. i want to play for you a little more of what senator mccain had to say about the president's handling today. take a listen. >> the president said we will, "consider other options." the president should have said, we're going to provide military assistance to ukraine and that will be in defensive weaponry. but to not do that after this country has lost a large part of its territory due to russian aggression, i think, frankly, it's encouraging and it makes me less optimistic about putin exercising restrain in eastern ukraine.
>> you agree with your colleague, we should be offering military assistance to ukraine? >> yeah, you know, john and i have agreed on most of our policy toward ukraine. we traveled there twice together in the last three months. it's probably no secret that i don't agree with him on this score. first of all, john has been a critic of the obama administration on this issue since day one, and frankly, the fact that we are here today with a very weak russia, having had the entirety of the ukraine turn away from russia and toward the eu and having to have engaged in a panicky reaction of invasion is a result in part of the united states' strength on this issue standing with the protesters throughout that difficult period of time at the end of last year and the beginning of this year. and the difficulty now is that ultimately the united states can't change the calculous in russia on our own. we have to work in conjunction with the europeans. this is a first step which sends a very clear signal to putin that we are going to stand together with our european partners and that if he doesn't reverse course in the coming
days, i imagine there's going to be a new round of crippling economic sanctions. so i think this is a process by which we're trying to give putin a chance to de-escalate and then the next step will clearly be a new set of sanctions. >> so this chance to de-escalate, what strikes me here is that it does seem as if we're at the beginning of a kind of classic logic of escalation sort of situation in which the u.s. as a means of trifg toying to deter deter, you know, further territorial incursions threatens x and the territorial incursion happens, so you have to come through with a threat. and then there's a response from russia which does not want to be seen as weak or backing down or cowed by the americans. and i just do worry about how we change the course of this unfolding in a way that does not lead toward a kind of tit for tat cycle of escalation, escalation, escalation? >> yeah well remember. there is a history here which
suggests that putin can make a different decision. he marched into russia in 2008 and then when there was a threat of sanctions from the united states and europe, he backed off. and so i don't think it's beyond the realm of possibility that that can happen here, but you've got to give him the chance to reverse course. i would argue we should follow on with this announcement pretty quickly with sanctions on russian banks, on russian petrochemical companies, and part of the difficulty is convincing europe to come along with us. he marched into crimea because he didn't believe the sanctions were going to happen. and i think today is just the first step. ultimately, it's our only way out right now. i mean senator mccain's idea that you're going to be able to arm up the ukrainian military in the next several days in order to forestall a russian invasion is fiction. there are ways we can help their military, but let's be honest, if the russians choose to march in the coming days, there's not a lot that we or the ukrainians can do to stop that. >> and that gets to part of the core issue here right, is the asymmetry between how important ewe skran to russia and how
important it is to the u.s. which is to say, ukraine is a whole lot more important to russia than it appears to be to the u.s. >> yeah but i'm not sure that's ultimatedly true, in the sense that putin is rewriting the rules of international border setting right now. you could look at all sorts of other countries that have their eye on other territories. china looking at the senkaku islands, for instance, who are going to draw lessons from this. now, it should matter to europe much more than it batters to u.s., because if he gets away with the incursion into ukraine, it's a nato ally that's likely next. there are precedents set that do matter to the united states. we're not getting into another cold war. the world is not aligned along those parameters any longer. but there are precedents that will cause us to ratchet up sanctions very quickly. >> senator chris murphy. thank you for your time tonight. >> thanks, chris. coming up, amid all the speculation about what could have happened to malaysia airlines flight 370, there are some people out there who are in a unique position to talk about whether some of the scenarios being floated are actually
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fifteen percent or more on car insurance. for my money, the most illuminating twitter feed on all the internet belongs to keith rupert murdoch. he runs one of the world's most powerful media empires and finally has a venue to express himself, to share his thoughts on politics, like rest of the civilians who don't have broadcast avenues to push their agenda and line. he blasted guinness for its decision to withdraw sponsorship from today's parade. over the fact that in the year 2014, no gay irish group is allowed to identify and march in the parade as a gay irish group. none. you can get gay married in iowa but cannot walk down fifth avenue in new york city holding a rainbow flag and shamrock. that's not the only thing murdoch is weighing in on. he's also on the case of the missing malaysia airlines flight tweeting in light of the
missing plane, "u.s. and china should be working more closely on muslim extremist threat." "maybe no crash, effectively hidden in northern pakistan like bin laden." with twitter being the wonderful democratic medium it is, many ordinary joes responded directly to the mogul. including famed pour me coffee who tweeted, "i'm just spitbaffling here, do you think the u.s. might have assets monitoring pakistan air snas" i have to agree. they probably do. up next, we have people, actual pilots much more qualified than billionaire megalomaniacs to talk about what might have happened to this plane.
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in the mystery of missing malaysia airlines 370, the thought, i think that's lurking in the back of everyone's mind the sliver of hope families of those onboard, is the plane landed somewhere. those people somewhere someway are walking the earth, they're somewhere. for that to be the case, something miraculous and improbable and bizarre would have had to have happened but a lot of improbable and bizarre things have already happened in the ten days since this flight disappeared. and until wreckage is found, some small amount of hope remains, however tiny. still, the reality is this. the jetliner was flying in the dark. it would have had to find a way to land without getting word out despite its massive size and the worldwide effort to locate it.
there's no one that understands exactly how difficult that would be than the people who fly these sorts of planes. joining me now, latane campbell. 14 years of experience flying international. captain karen pellicone. pilot for another major u.s. commercial airline and ross amer. he spent five years flying the boeg 77boeing 777. now ceo of aero consulting. ross let me start with you. in the dark, with no ground control and presumably, it appears, certain automatic functions of the plane turned off, could you get this thing to ground in any way? or is that just an impossible task? >> no, chris. it's a simple thing for a pilot of that caliber that gets to fly a 777. that aircraft has onboard equipment that could be used to find your way basically anywhere around the world by itself. >> so you do think that even
given the conditions that getting to an airstrip that could take a 777, getting it to ground that's not a, i guess, like obviously press lyly preposterous notion that should be dismissed out of hand? >> obviously we can't leave any stone unturned. there are many hypothesis and guesswork, but we really don't know anything as of this moment. nothing solid. not a shred of evidence has come up that back any of these theories. >> latane, i see you nodding your head. one of the things i thought interesting today in talking to pilots corresponding with pilots reading some pilots online is a real kind of backlash against what a lot of pilots see as an unfair move to cast dispersions on the pilot of this plane, a lot of counter-theorizing. i wonder if you share that "a" and "b," is that professional solidarity or something else?
>> i think any pilot is
loathe to question the abilities of another professional pilot. this captain, in particular, had a lot of experience. however, i keep trying to jump on some logic train that would lead me away from the crew and coincidence keeps getting in the way. the coincidence, for example, that just two minutes after the last communication, the transponder was turned off. that the fact that the airplane turned just as it was transferring from malaysian airspace into vietnamese airspace where they would have additional radar coverage happen. also the fact that the airplane was flown deliberately and apparently descended deliberately perhaps in an attempt to avoid radar. i would really want to know if either one of these crew members was prior malaysian military and had a knowledge of radar coverage along the malaysian coast. one more coincidence, the fact that the airplane apparently flew out toward penang on the western coast of malaysia, out of the straits of malacca and the pings they received from the engine data aligned almost
perfectly with an airway heading northwest toward sri lanka. >> i want to talk about that theory. but first, karen, i wanted to ask you if -- there's been a lot of confusion about what exactly the transponder is. it's a frequency that's in there in the cockpit you can set. have you ever had occasion as a pilot to turn the transponder off? is there some aspect of that that doesn't seem as incriminating or mysterious or bizarre as it appears to lay folks like me? >> procedures are to turn on the transponder right before we take off and then we turn it
off after we land. i don't see any reason to turn it off en route at all. it sends out a signal so the air traffic control can see where you are. traffic control can see where you are. >> have you ever had an occasion where you lost a transponder for a reason where there was some kind of mechanical difficulty that would take it out? >> i have, however, we have backups. if one side went out, the other
side started working. i've never had a case where it didn't work. >> okay. so, so here is the issue as i see it, ross. you say we don't know anything. >> we do know a few things, right? and that set of facts bring us nowhere. i want you to respond to what latane was saying, this process of inference folks are doing which is coincidence, coincidence, coincidence. is it not the case that catastrophic crashes, in this day and age, the product of a string of unlikely events happening together? because a set of unlikely things happened adjacently does not mean they didn't happen because planes are so safe, they go down so rarely under these conditions, it could have to be some set of very unlikely events strung together. >> absolutely. we all know this aircraft is one of the safest airplanes flying. there's almost 1,200 of them are flying as we speak around the world. only one fatality in the past and that basically had nothing
to do with the aircraft. so obviously as anything is possible, i don't know if this was obviously catastrophic failure of the aircraft, itself, or perhaps an explosion. and, you know, the argument about this altitude change, without the transponder, you can see the airplane, but you can't tell what the altitude is. so unless if they have some other military radar, highly sophisticated one that could tell the altitude from just the primary signature of the aircraft, i don't know how they're getting these altitude reportings. >> right. there's been some notes of caution that those altitude reporting might be out of lack. latane, you mentioned a theory that was shooting around today. this shadow theory. talk about that. explain, again, that plausibility, right after we
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plane, that part of the strangeness is that the trajectory of the flight, the northern trajectory of this for seven hours would go through so much airspace, so many air traffic control towers, so many different sets of radar, it would be impossible to do it with undetected. there was someone today who suggested if it got behind another plane, it would be possible. does that strike you as plausible? >> that strikes me as unplausible. the level of coordination would be extraordinary. they'd have to time everything perfectly to climb up to altitude, catch up with another aircraft. i think once they reached the extent of the radar-controlled airplane space in malaysia under normal circumstances and headed out over the indian ocean, all bets are off.
if i were a betting man, i'd be looking at the deepest part of the indian ocean which is very deep, by the way, right now. >> that seems to be if the plane did go down, that seems to be the likely place and the sheer size of that makes that difficult. karen, do you agree with what ross was saying before this basic principle of how confident you as a pilot would be under these conditions to be able to land that plane if there wasn't some catastrophic mechanical failure, if you had to get it down, you could? >> absolutely. we have onboard computers. we can type in the destination. it's kind of like using your iphone and google maps. follow where you need to go. there was nothing wrong with the airplane, it sounds like. it was just the transponder. there should be no difficulty getting it somewhere. >> ross, every time that we've had big, catastrophic commercial air disasters, there has been a kind of engineering response to it or regulatory response to it. and, of course, that's part, right, that's part of why getting to the bottom of the mystery is so important, just in terms of improving the system as a whole which is really kind of a miracle if you take a step back and recognize just how many planes are whizzing through the air without incident every day. >> absolutely, chris.
the majority of improvements to aviation in general, modern aircraft, was as a result of some sort of a crash or incident that occurred, and we've learned from it and what is happening is that manufacturers, airlines, themselves, they try to improve and learn from other mistakes. so we want to know what happened to this airplane, and i'm confident we will find it. even if it's in the deepest ocean, we will find it eventually. >> but there's going to be a certain -- it seems to me increasingly likely given the data we have so far,
particularly this final ping at 8:00 in the morning, the seven hours of flight time after they last contact, it seems to me increasingly likely, latane, a huge amount of time that will pass, if it is recovered, if it's actually in the engine, that there's going to be a huge amount of time that passes. and there's a lot of anxiety that's going to be produced in that interim, not just for obviously the people who are feeling this the most profoundly and deeply which is the families, but the entire commercial air travel system. >> i think everybody has a reason to be interested. we're now ten days into this event. the data recorder can ping through, what, 30 days. if it's in the deep part of the ocean, you have 20 days to find it. it's going to take extraordinary technology, for example, submarines or what not that may eventually find the aircraft. the average depth of the indian ocean is 12,600-plus feet. it has parts of it i think are as deep as 26,000 feet. when you start getting in the deep depths later on, if, for example, if it were like air france 447, a year later they're looking for the airplane, i'm sure they can come up, and i'm sure there will be enough interest long term for this to happen they would look for the
airplane, but it's going to be expensive and demand serious technology. >> reminder of the sheer scope of the size of this earth. not just that, but the remarkable feat that is air travel and the fact we do this every day. extraordinary. airline captains latane campbell, karen pellicone, ross aimer. that's "all in" for this evening. "the rachel maddow show" starts now. good evening, rachel. good evening, chris. thanks to you at home for staying with us this hour. i want to tell you upfront near on the interview tonight which is happening later on this hour, we've got a really big deal guest. here for the interview. the malaysian airlines plane that went missing had three american citizens onboard. two of them were little kids. toddlers. one of them is a 50-year-old ibm executive named philip wood. philip wood is one of the people on that missing plane. his partner, his girlfriend is going to be joining us live this hour. that is the interview tonight. i want to make sure you know that's coming up this hour.